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Welcome to our FAQ page where you will find some frequently asked questions about debt recovery.

We hope that you find the questions and answers provided of assistance to you. if you require further information or you have a particular query, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.

Why use a solicitor to recover a debt?

Using a solicitor can be a cost effective way of recovering bad debts. Often, simply engaging solicitors and sending out an initial solicitor’s letter of demand (see below) can have the desired effect and may encourage a debtor to make arrangements to discharge a debt without the need to issue legal proceedings.

In addition, an experienced debt collection solicitor will be familiar with the legal process involved and if it is necessary to issue proceedings will be in a position to deal with the matter quickly and effectively with the minimum of disruption to you and your business.

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How do I get started?

The first step is to contact us for a consultation. We will go through the process with you in detail, including the costs involved, allowing you to make an informed decision as to which course of action to take relevant to your particular needs.

When instructing us to act for you please ensure that you have full details of the debtor to include the name (and business name if applicable), address, contact numbers, the amount and nature of the debt due and owing.

What are the stages involved?

There are essentially 4 stages in the legal debt collection process:

  • Delivery of a letter of demand on the debtor
  • Issuing and serving debt collection proceedings on the debtor
  • Obtaining judgment
  • Enforcement of the judgment

For more details on the process involved click on our Legal Process link.

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What is a letter of demand?

A letter of demand calls upon a debtor to discharge a debt within a specific time period, usually within 10 days, and warns that if the debt is not discharged legal proceedings will follow and the debtor will be pursued for the debt and legal costs.

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What legal proceedings are used?

The type of legal proceedings issued will depend on the amount of the debt.

   Amount                                               Court                                         Proceedings

Up to €6,348                                      District Court                                 Civil Summons

€6,349-€38,092                                  Circuit Court                                       Civil Bill

€38,093 upwards                                High Court                                Summary Summons

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What does service of proceedings mean?

The service of proceedings is the manner in which the debt collection proceedings, whether they are in the form of a Summons or Civil Bill, are delivered on the debtor. High Court proceedings must be served personally on the debtor whereas District Court and Circuit Court proceedings may be served by registered post. In the case of a limited company, proceedings may be served by ordinary post.

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What is substituted service?

If the debtor refuses service of the proceedings or fails to collect the registered post, an application for substituted service (‘sub service’) can be made to court to vary the method of service. In most cases, the court will permit the proceedings to be served on the debtor by ordinary post.

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How is Judgment obtained?

A judgment confirms the debt is due by the debtor to the creditor. The principal effect of a judgment is that it can be published and enforced against the debtor in various ways (see below). To obtain judgment in uncontested proceedings it is necessary to file a copy of the proceedings and proof of service with the relevant court, an Affidavit of Debt (sworn by the creditor and confirming that the debt is due and owing), along with judgment papers.  The court then reviews the judgment papers filed and issues a judgment in favour of the creditor.

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What if the debtor contests the case?

If the debtor disputes the debt, a Notice of Intention to Defend is filed (District Court cases) or an Appearance is entered (Circuit and High Court cases) confirming that the debtor intends to defend the proceedings. In due course, once all proceedings are finalised and lodged with the relevant court, the case is given a hearing date and a judge makes a decision following a full hearing of the matters in dispute and the evidence put forward by both sides.

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What if the debt remains unpaid?

If, having obtained judgment, the debt remains unpaid then the creditor can look to enforce the debt through various means. There are a number of options including:

  • Publication
  • Instalment Order
  • Committal Order
  • Garnishee Order
  • County Sheriff
  • Judgment Mortgage
  • Winding-Up Petition (limited companies)
  • Bankruptcy proceedings

For further details on the operation of these enforcement measures click on our Legal Process link.

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How much does it cost?

It is important to remember there are costs involved in pursuing a debtor through the legal process. To assist clients, we have set out our standard fees in detail in respect of our debt recovery service in a separate link for ease of reference. For more details, please click on our Fees and Costs link.

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Glossary of Terms

Affidavit of Debt: legal document confirming the debt due, that is sworn by the creditor to be true.

Appearance: response from debtor which is filed with the court, indicating that he intends to defend the case


Civil Summons: District Court summons, to be served on debtor by the creditor, to commence legal proceedings.

Civil Bill: Circuit Court summons, to be served on debtor by the creditor, to commence legal proceedings.

Committal Order: Order of District Court committing the debtor to prison for failure to make debt repayments under the terms of an Instalment Order.

County Registrar: Circuit Court officer who issues default judgments and can also act as County Sheriff.

Court Costs: costs fixed by Court to be paid by the debtor to the creditor by way of reimbursement for the legal expenses involved.

Decree: District Court judgment.

Defence: Circuit Court document, in which the debtor denies in writing that a debt is due and defending the claims made by the creditor.

Discovery: debtor’s solicitor seeks copies of relevant documents in creditor’s possession and vice versa.

Ex Parte Application: the creditor applies to Court for an order without notice given to the debtor.

Execution Order: document to enforce a Circuit Court judgment.

Experian Gazette: weekly publication listing, amongst other things, all judgments registered that week in Ireland.

Fifa: document to enforce a High Court judgment.

Instalment Order: Order handed down by the District Court requiring a debtor to make debt repayments following the granting of a judgment.

Judgment Mortgage: a judgment that has been registered on deeds to property.

Judgment Interest: statutory interest applied to all Irish judgment debts.

Master of the High Court: judicial official who adjudges on debt recovery cases that come before the High Court.

Master’s Order: Order of the Master of the High Court normally giving liberty to enter judgment.

Motion: document grounding application to the Circuit Court, the High Court, or the Master stating the creditor’s application and remedy sought.

Notion of Intention to Defend: official response from debtor on receipt of District Court Civil Summons indicating his/her intention to defend the case.

Notice for Particulars: document frequently sent by debtor or his/her solicitor to a creditor requesting further details of the alleged debt, invoice date, etc.

Petition: document grounding application to Court in insolvency proceedings.

Plenary Hearing: full trial of an action before a judge and with witnesses attending for both sides, to give evidence personally under oath.

Replies to Notice for Particulars: document served by the creditor on the debtor or his/her solicitor replying to a Notice for Particulars.

Replying Affidavit: this is also a sworn legal document, in which the debtor will set out his side of the claim, denying that a debt is due as alleged and defending the claims made by the creditor.

Searches: enquiries done in Land Registry, Registry of Deeds, Companies Office, etc. to see if a party owns property, or is a director of a company, or seeking a correct address for service of proceedings, etc.

Stubbs Gazette: weekly publication listing, among other things, all judgments registered that week in Ireland.

Substituted Service: when a summons cannot be served in the way stipulated by the Court, the creditor can apply to the Court, by Ex Parte Application, to be allowed to serve the particular summons by ordinary prepaid post, or by some other means. This is known as a ‘sub-service’.

Summary Summons: High Court summons to commence High Court action for debt recovery.

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If you wish to discuss a debt recovery issue or would like advice on any matter, please Contact Us for a consultation.


tel: 061 599 033 email: visit us: 64 O'Connell Street, Limerick Opening Hours: Monday - Friday 9.00am to 5.30pm. Saturdays by Appointment